I was at Sandown on Bank Holiday Monday, doing a job for the owner of the Driftwood Beach Bar. After the flight, Sean, the owner came and collected me in his "Hummer", which had a greater fuel consumption and a larger engine than my aircraft and I had a very pleasant lunch at the bar, which I would highly recommend as a 'watering hole' for anyone visiting Sandown this summer.
Sandown is very different from Thanet but as a seaside resort, shares many similarities. These include juvenile anti-social behaviour and under-age drinking. Sean told me that the council there had imposed a drinks curfew on the supermarkets and Off-Licenses - seen as a source of the problems, which prevents them from selling alcohol to anyone under the age of 21 until after 6:30 PM. Reportedly this has been very effective in reducing a number of related problems and I'm tempted to discover more, as we can always learn lessons from the succesful experiences of other local authorities in tackling our most demanding challenges here in Thanet.
What was most noticeable to me about Sandown from the ground and the air, was that the shops in the seaside town appeared to be in good shape. With no large shopping mall nearby local business appears broadly sustainable and with the benefit of hindsight leads me to reflect on the impact of out-of-town shopping centres, which remains a controversial subject where the health of the local retail economy is concerned.
With the European elections around the corner, the Taxpayers Alliance has asked if I would fly aircraft over Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Leeds, Bradford and London on Thursday, with the message: "Stop the EU Rip-Off", a sentiment which I'm sure will attract some sympathy with the population a thousand feet below.
To achieve this, I've almost every banner-capable aircraft in the country 'up' from their different locations and I've drawn the short straw, with an entire lap of the M25 having to be done at both morning and afternoon rush hours. It takes about 2.5 hours per circuit, dodging Heathrow on the way.
Finally, if you have any doubts as to the mess this country is in and if you haven't yet seen our Prime Minister, Gordon Brown on You Tube, then here's your chance. I just wish he wouldn't smile as it clearly doesn't come naturally to him.
As for MP's expenses I would comment that Baronness Uddin has done nothing wrong in claiming £100,000 for an empty flat in Maidstone